OSHA Meaning

OSHA meaning is the definition of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is an agency of the U.S. government. OSHA is run by the Assistant Secretary, who reports to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the Cabinet of the U.S. OSHA is responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers throughout the United States as well as U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands. The goal of OSHA is to protect work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

OSHA covers most employees; however, those who are self-employed or immediate family members of farm families who don’t employ outside workers are exempt from OSHA requirements.

All qualified companies can visit osha.gov for additional OSHA resources, including training and other state programs that may affect such companies operating in certain lines of business. For example, OSHA has training for employees working with hazardous materials, specifically for those companies operating in a company in which hazardous materials are constantly present. Therefore, different industries will face different regulations and requirements. Such requirements stem from workplace research and input from technical experts. OSHA also provides training for employers so that they are aware of the standards and requirements, and can keep track of training for their employees with regard to workplace safety and prevention of injuries.

What Happens If the Employer Doesn’t Abide by OSHA Requirements?

OSHA can issue monetary fines up to tens of thousands of dollars for violations. Moreover, such violations could lead to criminal prosecution if the employer was negligent or otherwise failed to provide its employees with proper equipment to prevent injury. For example, if a company failed to provide proper safety equipment to its employees and an employee died on the job, the company will face criminal prosecution.

OSHA generally conducts periodic inspections of the workplace for potential hazards, any actions taken by the employer to mitigate the level of risk, and what type of training the employer has in place for its employees to ensure that they are well aware of workplace safety. During an inspection, OSHA will also review documents pertaining to prior workplace injuries or illnesses to ensure that proper steps were taken in those instances, and to confirm that all records are specific, detailed, and indicate any follow up steps that will need to be taken in the future.

However, if the OSHA inspector finds that employees are not using protective gear, he or she will need to document the failure and set up training through the employer in which an OSHA representative will be present and explain the risks associated with not wearing such protective gear or utilizing other protective equipment that the employer has provided. While the employer could be fined for such failure, the OSHA inspector will do his or her best to identify if the employer is at fault or if the specific employee(s) are at fault for failing to use the protective equipment and gear.

In turn, if an employee is aware that the employer is failing to abide by OSHA requirements, the employee can make a complaint to OSHA at which point in time an OSHA inspector will come out to the site to further investigate. The federal law protects the employee from retaliation on the part of the employer for such a complaint.

History of OSHA

Enacted in 1971, Congress passed OSHA to guarantee the safety and health of all employees in the workplace, except for those who are self-employed or immediate family members of farm families as these two categories are exempt. Its aim was to further reduce the amount of lost wages and production as well as medical expenses and disability compensation associated with such illnesses and injuries. The law was enacted in response to annual workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Before the law was passed, a total of 14,000 deaths and 2.5 million disabled workers were reported on a yearly basis. Immediately after its enactment, however, workplace fatality rates dropped by more than 50 percent and workplace injuries also reduced significantly. The law’s focus was on the textile and excavation industry, which is inherently risky.

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